The Bad, the Good, and the Ugly. Part 4
Wow, it’s hard for me to believe that I started on this journey back on January 27, and here it is more than a month later, and I’m finally getting to the last part of this thing. I originally intended for this to be a single blog written in 4 parts to explore how cancer and cancer treatments have changed my life, for better or worse. I wanted to look at all the changes, realizing that even though cancer is a horrible disease, sometimes there is a silver lining in all the troubles.
I originally set the whole thing up intending to write about 4 different areas of my life that have been changed forever by my cancer diagnosis and the subsequent treatments. Those 4 areas were:
My sense of wellbeing has been changed forever. There is nothing like a cancer diagnosis to wake you up like a hard slap in the face in the middle of the night. There is never a day when I don’t think about cancer, or think about how the lovely drugs that I am currently taking are effecting my life. Depression is always lurking in the weeds, ready to grab me by the ankle and pull me down and smother me. I have come to the realization that a bad day is just that, a bad day. Depression is when a bad day becomes a bad week, a bad month, a bad year. My goal is to shake off a bad day, get up the next day with some sort of renewed optimism and keep moving. My dog Zoey has helped me feel better by being her happy, excited, loving, snuggly self. My family has helped me too, getting me out of the house to meet with friends, keeping me moving, keeping me busy. Depression loves it when I’m home alone, listening to its lies, working on my brain with an empty, formless anxiety that makes me curl up and watch way to many war documentaries.
Writing this blog has helped in fighting depression, also. It has given me an outlet for the fears and heartache that come from fighting both cancer and the effects of the medication that I’m on. But I do have to be a little cautious what I write about on here, and on Facebook. Depression also makes me really creative and sarcastic, and, in a way, is a driving force behind this blog. But sometimes I write stuff that scares the everliving shit out of people, and I need to regulate that whenever possible. I want to be honest, but here’s the thing. Sometimes when I write something incredibly honest and put it out there, I usually feel a lot better, but my friends and family look at it and are horrified. I did not have a good day yesterday, and I wrote a poem last night that is, to be honest, the darkest thing I have ever wrote. I have decided to keep that one in my draft file, unseen by anyone. It will come out someday as the start of a book I’m working on, a story about a man dealing with demons both real and imagined. The darkness of that poem kind of surprised me, but it goes with the book perfectly. Let’s just leave that there for now.
I wrote about my walks with Zoey, and how they have energized me and helped keep me optimistic. They have also been extremely informative, because of all the books I have listened to while traversing the local parks and neighborhoods. My next blog will deal with a book I have mentioned on here before, Red Platoon by Clint Romesha. That blog will also deal with my occupation, and the things that I have learned from reading about the military and how they do things in the too real world of combat. It will also include The Most Important Thing I’ve Learned This Year, which isn’t saying much because it’s only March and we still have nine months of 2017 to go yet. The Ballad of Tom Kawalski is already written in my head, but it has yet to touch my computer screen.
Good grief, I’ve already written over 700 words and haven’t even started this thing yet. Obviously, Road Trip Therapy is going to be another multipart trip into the crazy psychoanalysis that is the blog Fishrocks. Without further ado,
Ok, before you get scared about the stuff I’m going to write, here’s the thing. My libido is dead. Really dead. If Lupron hit my libido in the face and knocked it down, Xtandi came up to it, put a knee in its back, and fired two rounds from a Glock 9 millimeter into the back of its head. It’s kinda like the scene in Goodfellas where Tommy gets whacked. Except nobody puts down any plastic.
Hormone therapy for prostate cancer kills off any testosterone wandering around in my body, thereby removing the fuel that causes my PSA to rise which could ultimately cause my cancer to spread elsewhere, like my bones or my organs. That is obviously something I want to prevent, although the tradeoff sometimes seems negligible, because living with this thing everyday gets very tiresome at times.
My sister in law has a friend who is currently battling breast cancer with a mastectomy and chemo and radiation. It is an absolutely horrible experience that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Sickness, hair loss, the whole bit. But, in some ways, I almost envy her a little. Before you go, wow, Dan, you have totally lost it, hear me out on this.
When the friend is done with the chemotherapy and radiation, it is time to get better. Her hair will start to grow back, her strength will start to increase, and eventually, God willing, she will be able to return to some semblance of a “normal life.” She fights it, gets rid of it, and moves on. The psychological effects will be there forever, and there is always the fear of recurrence, but if things work out, she can get back to living. I have a friend who is a stage 4 prostate cancer survivor, with mets to the bones, and he has endured radiation and chemo. But the thing that he is most frustrated with is that after all that, he remains on hormone therapy, which continues to plague him with tiredness, lack of muscle tone and zero libido. He is fighting the good fight, but his frustration is palpable, squeezing its way into his anguished posts on Facebook. He just wants to be done with it. The fact is, he will never be done with it. Neither will I.
I see that I have crushed the One Poop Rule again, so part 2 of this blog will actually deal with Road Trip Therapy, how Holly and I drive around the state looking for good food and drink while talking about the things that are going on in our lives. It is a blog about restaurants, and townie bars and scenic drives, and may branch off into its own blog page someday separate from Fishrocks. I promise to stay on topic.
Arcadia Ales in Kalamazoo, one of many places we’ve been to for Road Trip Therapy. Next time, I promise.
Thanks for reading.